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Will I get a new car if I total mine?

No one need tell you that becoming involved in a Washington car crash is a terrible experience. Even if you are lucky and neither you nor your passengers suffer injury, the damage to your car can be extensive, leaving you with major repair costs, or worse yet, a totally destroyed car.

Many auto insurance policyholders believe that if they total their car, their insurance company will replace it with a new one. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. As Insurance.com explains, your insurance company likely will provide you with a brand new car only if the one you totaled was less than three months old. If your car was older than that, what you receive after totaling it depends on the insurance coverage you carry.

What constitutes total loss?

In general, your insurance company likely will consider your wrecked car a total loss if it cannot be safely repaired and/or if the repair costs would amount to more than the car’s pre-accident value. Alternatively, your insurance company may consider your wrecked car a total loss if the repair costs plus its scrap value equals or exceeds its pre-accident value.

What determines your car’s pre-accident value?

Your insurance adjuster will take a number of factors into consideration when determining your car’s pre-accident value, including the following:

  • Its mileage
  • The condition of its body
  • The condition of its interior
  • The condition of its tires
  • The value of any after-sale parts or equipment you installed

Once (s)he determines the above, (s)he then will attempt to find comparable cars for sale in your area that are the same make and model and in the same condition. In addition, she will attempt to establish the amount of sales tax and title and registration fees you will be required to pay for them. Together, all of these represent the total amount of the check you can expect to receive from your insurance company for your totaled car.

Keep in mind that you always have the right to dispute your insurance company’s assessed pre-accident value of your totaled car and prove that it was worth more than the company offers to pay for it. Such a dispute, however, often requires you to engage the services of an attorney. This is educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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